before stage four

"Before Stage Four: Confronting Early Psychosis" offers a stark yet hopeful look into a new movement in the mental health community. The compelling story takes viewers across the country - from Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, to San Francisco, California. Episodes of early psychosis, marked by temporary breaks from reality and disruptive thoughts and perceptions, often strike during adolescence and young adulthood, and all too often the underlying illness isn't treated until it reaches a crisis point. By then, young people are likely to leave school or work, only to begin a life-long journey of spotty treatment, recurring episodes, and unfulfilled hopes of an education, career, marriage and children. Sometimes the end result is suicide. "We don't wait until cancer reaches stage four before we start treating it," says Paul Gionfriddo, president and CEO of Mental Health America in Washington, D.C. "But that's how we treat psychosis. " But groundbreaking data now shows a significant success rate for people who receive early, coordinated care. "First Episode Psychosis" (FEP) programs are the latest beacon of light in the mental health community. "Before Stage Four" features several personal stories, including that of Gionfriddo's adult son who became a casualty of the mental health system - and is now dealing with long-term schizophrenia and chronic homelessness in San Francisco. It also focuses on FEP early treatment programs that are literally saving young lives, including a highly regarded center in Philadelphia. Also featured are ground-breaking brain studies from the University of Pittsburgh that could one day predict a young person's vulnerability to psychosis so that families can intervene "Before Stage Four."

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